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Custom program developed for Health Science leaders

Health Sciences Leadership Series

A program designed to improve the leadership capabilities and communication skills of Health Sciences faculty members.

Visit the Faculty of Health Sciences website to register.

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

Health Sciences faculty members spend years training for their roles as educators, researchers and scholars. In many cases, though, there aren'™t the same opportunities to develop specific skills required for their administrative and managerial duties.

The Office of Faculty Development in the Faculty of Health Sciences aims to change that by collaborating with the Human Resources Department on a new management development program. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will launch this September with the first cohort of 30 participants completing six full-day sessions throughout 2014-15.

"This program is modelled after one that myself and a number of other faculty had the opportunity to take several years ago," says Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education, Faculty of Health Sciences. "In retrospect, the content has proven to be highly relevant and practical. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development."

Human Resources designed the program specifically for Health Sciences faculty members. The material will cover challenges, situations and conflicts they will encounter in their day-to-day work. Dr. Sanfilippo says participants will gain a deeper understanding of their leadership capabilities, expand their communication skills, enhance their project management skills, and improve their ability to build relationships both within and outside their department.

The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development.

Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.

With the Health Sciences Leadership Series, Queen's Human Resources Department continues to expand its leadership development programming. The department has offered a similar program for non-academic managers since 2009.

"œWe are excited to partner with the Faculty of Health Sciences to extend this valuable leadership training to their faculty members," says Al Orth, Associate Vice-Principal, Human Resources. "We are hopeful that the positive outcomes of this series will result in opportunities to work with other faculties on similar programs in the future."

The series has the added benefit of meeting the accreditation criteria for two professional organizations. It is an accredited group learning activity for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The program also meets the accreditation criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Online registration is now open with the first session slated to take place Sept. 16. More information is available on the Faculty of Health Sciences website or by contacting Shannon Hill, Learning Development Specialist, Human Resources, at ext. 74175.

For the Record: Jan. 7, 2021

For the Record provides postings of appointment, committee, grant, award, and other notices set out by collective agreements and university policies and processes. It is the university’s primary vehicle for sharing this information with our community.

Submit For the Record information for posting to Gazette editor Andrew Carroll.


Internal Headship Search, Department of Critical Care Medicine

After serving as Head of Critical Care Medicine since 2016, Daniel Howes will be stepping down on June 30, 2021 and the Faculty of Health Sciences will conduct an internal search process to identify his successor.

The Search Committee, established in accordance with the Senate document governing the Appointment of Clinical/Academic Department Heads, will include:

  • Jane Philpott (Co-Chair), Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Michael Fitzpatrick (Co-Chair), Chief of Staff & Vice President of Medical & Academic Affairs, Kingston Health Sciences Centre
  • Renate Ilse, Vice President Patient Care, Kingston Health Sciences Centre
  • Katie Roberts (Secretary), Senior Staffing Officer, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Stephen Archer, Head, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • David Messenger, Head, Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Chris Smith, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Hailey Hobbs, Assistant Professor, Department of Critical Care Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Emily Reynen, Chief Resident, Department of Critical Care Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Kallie Stapleton, Resident, Department of Critical Care Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Anna Tavares, Administrative Assistant, Department of Critical Care Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences

At this time, faculty, staff, students, residents and all other members of the hospital and university communities are invited to submit comments, in writing, on the present state and future prospects of the Department of Critical Care Medicine. Additionally, all members of the hospital and university communities are invited to submit for the committee’s consideration, names of internal candidates from within the Faculty of Health Sciences, who may be considered for the headship. Submissions must include rationale for supporting each nominee. Written submissions are to be directed to the co-chairs c/o Katie Roberts, Senior Staffing Officer, Faculty of Health Sciences at katie.roberts@queensu.ca. Responses received will remain confidential and will be shared only with the members of the review committee; Anonymous submissions will not be considered.


2020: The Year in Research

A look back at the major initiatives, the funding and awards garnered, and how a community mobilized to respond to and combat COVID-19.

In recent years, we have taken a moment each December to highlight some of the research that has captured our attention over the previous 12 months.

2020 was not a normal year. It challenged us, tested us, and saw our research community pivot in creative and unexpected ways to respond to the global crisis. Through all of this, research prominence remained a key driver for Queen’s and our researchers continued to make national and international headlines for their discoveries and award-winning scholarship.

Join us as we review some of the highlights of 2020.

[Photo of Hailey Poole dispensing hand sanitizer]
A team of Queen’s researchers from the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering along with GreenCentre Canada partnered with Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Tri-Art Manufacturing (Kingston) to develop hand sanitizer, producing up to 300 litres of product per week to help meet the needs of Kingston hospitals.

COVID-19 Response: Mobilizing as a Community to Confront COVID-19

In the early days of the pandemic, Queen’s researchers across disciplines were active in offering commentary and fact-based analysis on COVID-19-related issues – from understanding if DNA is key to whether you get COVID and helping to diagnose unusual symptoms related to COVID stress to suggesting 5-min workouts you can do at home. Many of these analyses were carried on national and international news platforms, demonstrating the critical contribution that researchers and academics can make to informing the conversation.

When news of PPE and ventilator shortages and test wait times hit international media, research and student groups across campus leveraged their skills to come up with innovative solutions. Here are a few examples:

  • A team of researchers from the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, along with GreenCentre Canada, partnered with Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and Tri-Art Manufacturing (Kingston) to make 300 litres of hand sanitizer per week to help meet the needs of Kingston hospitals
  • Researchers from Queen’s University and KHSC partnered with Public Health Ontario Laboratories and Hamilton Health Sciences Center to develop an in-house COVID test that can provide results in 24 hours
  • Faculty and students at the Human Mobility Research Centre and Ingenuity Labs joined forces with KHSC health professionals to take on the Code Life Ventilator Challenge, a global call to design a low-cost and easy-to-manufacture ventilator that can be created and deployed anywhere around the world
  • Queen’s Noble Laureate, Dr. Arthur B. McDonald, led the Canadian arm of the Mechanical Ventilator Milano project, which aimed to create an easy-to-build ventilator that can help treat COVID-19 patients. In May, the Government of Canada announced an agreement with Vexos to produce 10,000 Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM) units and in September the ventilators received Health Canada approval
(Photo by Matthew Manor / Kingston Health Sciences Centre)
Queen’s University and Kingston Health Sciences Centres (KHSC) partnered with Public Health Ontario Laboratories and Hamilton Health Sciences Center to develop an in-house test for COVID-19 that can be completed in large volumes and provide results in 24 hours. (Photo by Matthew Manor / Kingston Health Sciences Centre)

The Vice-Principal (Research) Portfolio also quickly mobilized to offer Rapid Response funding, which was awarded to advance 20 research projects supporting medical and social coronavirus-related solutions. Queen’s researchers also partnered with industry to transform pandemic decision-making and healthcare through two Digital Technology Supercluster projects, Looking Glass and Project ACTT, focused on predictive modelling and cancer testing and treatment. The projects received over $4 million in funding from the Government of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster’s COVID-19 program.

Funding Future Research

Queen’s continued to attract leading researchers and competitive funding and awards through a number of national and international programs.

[Rendering of the MVM Ventilator]
A team of Canadian physicists, led by Queen’s Nobel Laureate Art McDonald, is part of an international effort to design the MVM Ventilator. With support from Canadian philanthropists and Queen's alumni the project was able to progress, leading to an order of 10,000 units from the Government of Canada.

Hundreds of grants for new projects and research infrastructure were secured through CHIR, SSHRC, NSERC and CFI, Canada’s national funding agencies. Seven multidisciplinary Queen’s research projects received $1.7 million in support from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) 2019 Exploration competition, a program that fosters discovery and innovation by encouraging Canadian researchers to explore, take risks, and work with partners across disciplines and borders. Additionally, The Canadian Cancer Trials Group, SNOLAB, and Canada’s National Design Network, all of which are Queen’s-affiliated research facilities, saw a funding increase of over $60 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Major Sciences Initiatives fund. The Institute for Sustainable Finance received a boost of $5 million from Canada’s big banks to support ISF’s mission of aligning mainstream financial markets with Canada’s transition to a lower carbon economy.

The university welcomed and appointed seven new and two renewed Canada Research Chairs (CRC) in two rounds (September and December 2020) of CRC competition announced this year. One of the country’s highest research honours, Queen’s is now home to over 50 Canada Research Chairs. Queen’s also welcomed seven promising new researchers through the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholars and Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship programs.

Recognizing Research Leadership

2020 saw Queen’s researchers win some of Canada’s top awards and honours for research excellence and the university continues to rank second in Canada for awards per faculty member (2021 Maclean’s University Rankings).

[Photo of Leach’s storm petrel chick by Sabina Wilhelm]
Queen's researchers, from graduate students to Canada Research Chairs, continue to make an impact on our understanding of the world. (Photo by Sabina Wilhelm

Queen’s had a successful year earning fellowships within Canada’s national academies. Nancy van Deusen and Cathleen Crudden were elected to the Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada, while Amy Latimer-Cheung and Awet Weldemichael were named members of the organization’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. Health research leaders Janet Dancey, Marcia Finlayson, and Graeme Smith were inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and Michael Cunningham and Jean Hutchinson were elected to the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

While our researchers were recognized with dozens of honours throughout the year, below are a few highlights: David Lyon secured Canada’s Molson Prize for pioneering the field of surveillance studies. Education researcher Lynda Colgan received the NSERC Science Promo Prize for her efforts in promoting science to the general public. Heather Castleden was awarded a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa to engage with Native Hawaiians about their leadership in renewable energy projects. A lauded steward of the environment, John Smol received Canada’s Massey Medal for his lifetime of work in studying environmental stressors. The first Indigenous midwife in Canada to earn a doctoral degree, health researcher Karen Lawford was named one of this year’s 12 outstanding Indigenous leaders and received the Indspire Award for Health.

Internally, researchers were honoured with the university’s Prizes for Excellence in Research (Yan-Fei-Liu, Michael Cunningham, and Gabor Fichtinger) and the Distinguished University Professor (Audrey Kobayashi, David Bakhurst, Julian Barling, Glenville Jones, John Smol, Kathleen Lahey) title.

Major Initiatives

The Discover Research@Queen’s campaign was launched to build engagement with the Research@Queen’s website and encouraged 1000s of key external stakeholders to learn more about the research happening at the University. Our community continued to mobilize their research through fact-based analysis on The Conversation Canada’s news platform. In 2020, 79 Queen’s researchers published 85 articles that garnered over 1.9 million views.

[Illustration of the scales of justice by Gary Neill]
Queen's University researchers Samuel Dahan and Xiaodan Zhu are using AI to level the legal playing field for Canadians, including those affected by COVID-19 unemployment.

This year marked the fifth anniversary of the Art of Research photo contest with over 100 faculty, staff, students, and alumni submitting engaging and thought-provoking research images. Ten category and special prizes were awarded.

The WE-Can (Women Entrepreneurs Canada) program through Queen’s Partnership and Innovation (QPI) celebrated one year of supporting women entrepreneurs in Kingston and the surrounding area, through programs such as Compass North and LEAD.  The QPI team also marked one year at its new downtown Kingston location, the Seaway Coworking building, which allows easy access for the community and partners.

To support researchers thinking outside of the box to solve some of humanity’s most complex problems, the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio launched the Wicked Ideas competition to fund high risk, high reward projects with interdisciplinary teams that are not easily supported through traditional funding opportunities. Twelve projects received funding in round one and researchers can now apply for round two.

Congratulations to the Queen’s research community for their resilience and successes this year. We look forward to seeing what new research and opportunities 2021 will bring. To learn more about research at the university, visit the Research@Queen’s website, and for information about research promotion, contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives.

[Art of Photo by Hayden Wainwright]
2020 Art of Research Photo Contest Winner: Hayden Wainwright (MSc Biology), Nature's van Gogh (Category: Out in the Field)

Queen’s University announces five new Canada Research Chairs

New chairs have wide-ranging expertise in research  from glaciers to youth in Africa.

Five academics at Queen’s University have been named Canada Research Chairs (CRCs), a prestigious honour created to promote leading-edge research and attract and retain the world’s best researchers. Stéfanie von Hlatky, Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin, Laura Thomson, Susan Bartels, and Jacqueline Monaghan have been named Tier 2 CRCs.  

A five-year position, Tier 2 Chairs are granted to exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field. The CRC program is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s national funding bodies. 

“I am delighted that these five exceptional women leaders have been appointed Canada Research Chairs at Queen’s,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice Principal (Research). “These outstanding researchers have and will continue to contribute to new discoveries across multiple disciplines, enhancing our research excellence.” 

Here is some information about the new Chairs:  

[Photo of Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin]
Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin, Canada Research Chair in Youth and African Urban Futures

Grace Adeniyi-OgunyankinCanada Research Chair in Youth and African Urban Futures (Geography and Planning, Gender Studies, SSHRC funded) - Dr. Adeniyi-Ogunyankin's research involves a comparative study of the impact of contemporary urban transformations on African youth identity, labour practices, psychosocial well-being and future orientation. Explorations of the relationship between youth and the new urban economy are critical to addressing issues of sociopolitical stability and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. 

[Photo of Susan Bartels]
Susan Bartels, Canada Research Chair in Humanitarian Health Equity

Susan BartelsCanada Research Chair in Humanitarian Health Equity  (Emergency Medicine, CIHR funded) - Dr. Bartels’ research examines the social determinants of health among women and children affected by war and disasters. Her research provides evidence to inform policies / practices to improve well-being and health while reducing the negative impact of war and disasters on women and children.

[Photo of Jacqueline Monaghan]
Jacqueline Monaghan, Canada Research Chair in Plant Immunology

Jacqueline Monaghan, Canada Research Chair in Plant Immunology (Biology, NSERC funded) - Every year, Canadian crop farmers battle diseases by spraying fields with environmentally unfriendly pesticides. The knowledge gained from this project by Dr. Monaghan will advance understanding of how plants defend against pathogen infection and this work may inform agricultural practices to improve crop yield and reduce chemical use. 

[Photo of Laura Thomson]
Laura Thomson, Canada Research Chair in Integrated Glacier Monitoring Practices

Laura ThomsonCanada Research Chair in Integrated Glacier Monitoring Practices (Geography and Planning, NSERC funded) - With Canada hosting the largest area of glaciers outside of Greenland and Antarctica, Canadian glaciers are a leading contributor to rising sea-level. Dr. Thomson seeks to determine the processes controlling the volume, timing, and chemistry of glacier runoff and develop models to provide rapid estimates of glacier runoff in regions without observations. 

[Photo of Stefanie von Hlatky]
Stéfanie von Hlatky, Canada Research Chair in Gender, Security, and the Armed Forces

Stéfanie von HlatkyCanada Research Chair in Gender, Security, and the Armed Forces (Political Studies, SSHRC funded) - More inclusive conflict resolution, such as giving women an equal voice in peace talks, have shown to provide better long-term solutions. Dr. von Hlatky will show how greater diversity and inclusion can improve the prospects of peace. She will seize on new opportunities to make a significant and lasting contribution to policy and military practice, in support of more peaceful outcomes. 

Dr. Chris Simpson appointed Executive Vice President, Medical, Ontario Health

Dr. Chris Simpson has been appointed as Ontario Health's Executive Vice-President, Medical, effective February 1, 2021.

In this role, Dr. Simpson will provide medical leadership and clinical expertise to Ontario Health’s Clinical Institutes and Quality Programs Portfolio, and more broadly across Ontario Health. He will help define, develop and evaluate programs and models of care consistent with Ontario Health’s mandate and priorities. Ontario Health is an agency created by the Government of Ontario in 2019 to connect and coordinate the province’s health care system and help ensure that Ontarians receive the best possible care. Dr. Simpson will have an important role advising the CEO on current and emerging health system and medical matters and will co-lead Ontario Health’s Clinical Advisory Committee.

In conjunction with this appointment, Dr. Simpson will step down from his roles as Vice-Dean, (Clinical), School of Medicine and Medical Director of the Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization (SEAMO). Dr. Simpson will remain a part of the Queen’s and Kingston communities as a faculty member in the Department of Medicine, and cardiologist at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC).

“I am thrilled to move into this role with Ontario Health as the organization is taking shape; it’s an incredible opportunity," says Dr. Simpson. "But it was a difficult decision to leave my post with the Faculty of Health Sciences, working alongside Dean Philpott. She is an outstanding leader and I know that the faculty will achieve great things under her leadership.” 

Dr. Stephen Vanner, who currently serves as Director of Clinical Research KHSC and FHS, will step into the roles of Interim Vice-Dean and Interim Medical Director, SEAMO as of February 1, 2021. A formal search process for an appointment to these roles will be undertaken in the spring.

“While Chris will leave big shoes to fill at FHS, this is a well-deserved honour that positions him as a key player in the healthcare system. I am extremely proud to see him take on this provincial leadership role,” says Dr. Jane Philpott, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences. “I wish him all the best in this new position with Ontario Health.”

Learn more about Ontario Health on the agency's website.

Internal funding for global impact

The Wicked Ideas research competition is now open for applications with notice of intent due Jan. 6.

The Vice-Principal (Research) is offering close to $2 million in funding for Queen’s researchers who are thinking outside of the box to solve some of humanity’s most complex problems.

[Wicked Ideas Graphic]

The Wicked Ideas Competition is open for its second year as an initiative to fund high risk, high reward projects with interdisciplinary teams that are not easily supported through traditional funding opportunities. The goal is to provide Queen’s researchers with the initial support to collaborate and apply their expertise towards wicked problems, issues so complex and dependent on so many factors that it is hard to grasp what exactly the problem is or how to tackle it. This year the initiative supported innovative approaches to cleantech, Lyme disease, and microplastics.

The Competition

This year’s competition will have two application streams. A minimum of 10 teams will be funded through the Interdisciplinary Stream where team members will be from multiple disciplines. The Discipline Specific Stream will fund a maximum of five teams where members can be from within a given discipline. The competition is open to all Queen’s faculty members, and teams can also leverage the expertise of students, post-doctoral fellows, and community members, to name a few, as members. Up to 15 teams successful in the first phase of the competition will be awarded $75,000.

To compete for the second phase of funding, teams will be invited to pitch their projects to an adjudication panel made up of researchers, community members, industry, and other partners. Up to five successful teams from this round will receive an additional $150,000. Projects can concentrate on local, national, or global challenges and should focus on novel approaches (high risk) and disruptive or transformative thinking (high reward). Participating teams will also be asked about their potential knowledge mobilization outcomes and how this research could impact the community or lead to further partnerships for implementation and collaboration.

"The first Wicked Ideas competition supported exciting projects that are addressing complex issues in creative and innovative ways with the potential to lead to additional funding through the government’s New Frontiers in Research program," says Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research). "I very much look forward to the response of the research community to this year’s opportunity."

Notice of Intent

Notice of Intent applications are due Jan. 6, 2021. For more information on the initiative and how to submit your project, see the Vice-Principal (Research) Office.

Providing essential medications

Queen’s University researcher Christopher Booth assesses essential medicines list with a focus on cancer treatment.

Dr. Christopher Booth

Queen’s University professor in the Department of Oncology Christopher Booth, together with his colleagues, are taking the World Health Organization’s (WHO) essential medicines list (EML) to frontline cancer doctors across the globe.  

Every two years since 1977, the WHO has updated and released anEML and through this list, the WHO aims to promote affordable access to safe and effective medicines and provide guidance for healthcare systems across the world. The EML lists medicines spanning the entire healthcare spectrum, with one area of focus being cancer care and treatment.  

As part of an ongoing study, Dr. Booth’s team collected data through an electronic survey from thousands of doctors worldwide, asking which medications were the most essential.  

“The way that we framed the question is: imagine your government puts you in charge of cancer medicines and tells you that cost is not an issue, but you can only choose ten cancer medicines for your entire country,” says Dr. Booth. “What we want to know is which cancer medicines front-line clinicians would choose to derive the greatest public good, and then as a follow up, which of these medicines are actually available in their country. If the medicines listed are not available, then the survey follows up by asking why that is. Creating a list is one thing but it is crucial that we make sure that drugs are actually available on the ground.”  

Dr. Booth adds he hopes this survey will help to identify medicines whose importance has been overlooked by experts, so that they can be added to future versions of the EML.    

Another issue that Dr. Booth is concerned with is how a medicine’s price can impact whether it is available to patients. As the survey progresses, participants are asked to modify their previous list of essential medicines, but now factoring in cost. While some medicines offer benefits in terms of patient outcomes, they can be highly expensive. For the EML to be useful to low and middle-income countries, it is important to identify medicines which offer substantial benefits to patients and are affordable.  

“While many of the cancer medicines listed on the EML are highly effective low-cost older drugs, there are some oncology drugs on the list that are very expensive. The hope is that by listing these important medicines, countries will be able to better negotiate prices that make them affordable.,” says Dr. Booth.  

Having said that, there is a risk to this approach. If the cancer list includes too many of these ‘very high cost’ medicines, there is a risk that the Ministry of Health in a country with limited resources may decide the entire cancer list is not practical and decide not to fund any of the EML drugs – even those that are relatively affordable.”  

The WHO work fits into Dr. Booth’s broader research program which seeks to improve access and quality of cancer care for patients in Canada and globally.  

Ultimately, Dr. Booth says he hopes that his research contributes to changes in health policy and clinical practice that lead to improved outcomes for patients regardless of where they live.  

7 ways meaningful activities can help us get through the coronavirus pandemic

Keeping busy during the pandemic by taking on a new hobby or tackling a home renovation project can help us get through challenging times. (Shutterstock)
Keeping busy during the pandemic by taking on a new hobby or tackling a home renovation project can help us get through challenging times. (Shutterstock)

We hear over and over that it is important to remain occupied during pandemic restrictions. People are gardening, baking bread and taking on DIY projects in record numbers. But what exactly does all this “occupation” do for us in stressful times?

Meaningful activities can be a source of healing and relief in stressful times. In the fall of 2011, in response to the events of September 11, I contributed a position paper to an expert panel of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation that sought to offer guidance on meaningful activities. Although the current circumstances are dramatically different, the argument is much the same. Being occupied is good for us, and its benefits are even greater when we are beset with uncertainty, distress or upheaval.

As long as human history has been recorded, we have known that it is important for human beings to be occupied in meaningful ways. Based on an exhaustive review of the international literature, there is solid evidence for seven ways that meaningful activities can support our well-being in difficult times.

1. Identity: What we do reminds us of who we are. How we occupy ourselves contributes to the formation and maintenance of the self. Difficult times threaten the integrity of the self. Occupation provides the mechanism through which the past, present and future of the self are integrated. In the face of difficult circumstances, occupation offers the potential for a fuller, more integrated self once the crisis resolves.

2. Mastery: Occupation reminds us of our capacity for exercising control over our circumstances. It validates our sense of being able to master a situation, turn it to our advantage and come out of it intact. Occupation makes people agents of their situation rather than victims of it. Occupation is both intrinsically motivated and intrinsically rewarding because of its validation of our sense of mastery and adaptation.

A woman on a red mat doing yoga in a white bedroom
Developing and maintaining habits help regain a sense of control. (Shutterstock)

3. Habit: Being occupied in usual ways in the midst of a crisis reinforces in us our normal daily habits. It reassures us that the world continues to turn and that it is possible to have a normal life again. Habits have been understood for many years to have restorative properties when chaos appears to otherwise reign. Habits have been shown to increase skill, decrease fatigue, free attention and protect individuals against the stressful effects of difficult situations.

4. Diversion: Doing something provides a diversion from the negative aspects of stressful situations. Diversional activity allows individuals to transcend the obstacles and difficulties of their daily lives, and in some circumstances, to even achieve an optimal experience beyond the fixed realities of time and space — a state we call “flow.” Occupation has the power to divert people away from the difficulties in their lives, toward satisfaction and healthy engagement.

5. Support: Being occupied often involves interacting with others — providing support to their coping efforts, and receiving support in return. The sense of belonging is widely understood to be one of the factors that helps people to achieve positive outcomes and to weather stress without undue negative consequences for their health. Shared occupations can thus have a two-fold positive effect. Besides the obvious beneficial effects for the recipient of support, occupations contributing to the welfare of another have been shown to have numerous benefits for the provider as well.

6. Survival: Many occupations actually have survival value. Evidence from anthropology and prehistory show that humans created and differentiated occupations that promoted co-operation and favoured the survival of both the individual and the group. Occupations meet safety and sustenance needs, and as such are essential tools for survival.

Hands baking bread
Baking bread is both a way to stay occupied and a useful life skill. (Shutterstock)

7. Spiritual Connection: Finally, when difficult times arise, occupations can be the means through which meaning in life is restored. Whereas in earlier times, people might have turned to religion to restore meaning, in the contemporary world of secular pluralism, occupation may be the most effective medium available through which individuals can affirm their connection with the self, with others, with the cosmos and with the divine. In stressful times, being occupied may provide the sense that one is not alone, both literally and in the most profound sense.

So keep on learning to knit, doing yoga online and sorting photographs. There are seven good reasons to do so, all of which will help to see you through this pandemic with your sense of self and community intact.The Conversation


Mary Ann McColl, Professor, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

An inclusive approach to disability research

Queen's researchers Heather Aldersey and Beata Batorowicz are collaborating with youth with disabilities to understand factors affecting their participation in mainstream educational settings in Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa.

[Zoom screenshot of a meeting with Aldersey and Batorowicz]
Project team members collaborating remotely. (Photo supplied by Dr. Heather Aldersey) 

Dec. 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD). This year’s theme for the United Nations-sanctioned day is “Building Back Together: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world,” underscoring the continued importance of disability inclusion work in a pandemic-free future.

Youth with disabilities face significant challenges as they access and navigate mainstream educational settings across Africa, an unfortunate reality that has been further exacerbated by the global pandemic. To effectively include and support talented yet disadvantaged youth with disabilities in their education, we need to know more about the factors affecting their participation.  

Two researchers at the International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR) at Queen’s University are committed to demystifying what those factors may be. Heather Aldersey, Scientific Director of ICACBR and Canada Research Chair in Disability-Inclusive Development, and Beata Batorowicz (School of Rehabilitation Therapy), are currently collaborating on a multi-country participatory action research (PAR) project. Their work, funded by a $330,000 grant (US $250,000) from the Mastercard Foundation, is being conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Gondar, Ashesi University, and the University of Cape Town. The project aims to explore what barriers and facilitators affect education access and inclusion for youth with disabilities in middle school, high school, and university in Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa.

What makes this project unique is how it is being studied. PAR is a research approach that focuses on enabling positive community action as its key objective. PAR researchers work in collaboration with key stakeholders of the research findings, recognizing them as equal partners in the study process. A PAR approach challenges inequality and promotes democracy, helping stimulate social change.

In this work, Dr. Aldersey, Dr. Batorowicz, and their academic colleagues from Africa are collaborating with youth with disabilities as core members of the research team, incorporating youth insights in all stages of the research process, including design of study components, implementation of focus groups, analysis of collected data, and dissemination of key findings.

“The youth researchers on our team are a force for change. I am excited to see how they will take our study findings to advocate for lasting change for their own lives and for the lives of others with disabilities in their communities,” says Dr. Aldersey.

[Photo of a focus group supplied by Heather Aldersey]
Project team members in Ethiopia piloting a focus group discussion. (Photo supplied by Dr. Heather Aldersey)

One of these youth researchers is Tewodros (Teddy) Leulseged Mamo, a PhD candidate and teacher educator in Ethiopia. His personal experiences with physical disability and academic interests in interdisciplinary studies and qualitative inquiry have inspired him to dedicate his career to the empowerment of persons with disabilities in Africa and globally.

“Assuming active roles in research, dissemination, and implementation of such projects is an uplifting experience for disabled researchers,” he says.

Dureyah Abrahams, a fellow youth researcher from South Africa with interests in universal design and accessibility, adds “[As persons living with a disability], we are the experts and thus we should be the ones pioneering our access and inclusion in this world.”

Study results will inform cost-effective changes that can be made at every educational level to better support youth with disabilities in Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa to reach their full potential. Additionally, Dr. Aldersey and Dr. Batorowicz anticipate that some aspects of students’ experiences in these African contexts may also resonate with students’ experiences in Canada, for example as it relates to stigmatizing attitudes or the need for public policy adjustments here at home.

Both agree that no country has gotten inclusive education completely right yet. International collaborations and stakeholder partnership, however, are two big steps in the right direction.

Two Queen’s students earn Rhodes Scholarships

Matthew Hynes and Jevon Marsh
Matthew Hynes, a second-year medical student, and Jevon Marsh, who recently earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Queen's, have been selected as 2021 Rhodes Scholars. (Supplied / Mike Ritter/Memorial University)

Queen’s University students Matthew Hynes and Jevon Marsh have been selected as 2021 Rhodes Scholars, earning each of them a prestigious scholarship to the University of Oxford worth more than $100,000.

With their selection, Hynes, a second-year medical student, and Marsh, who recently earned a master’s degree in chemistry, bring the university’s overall Rhodes Scholars total to 60.

“On behalf of Queen’s, I congratulate Jevon and Matthew on this great accomplishment,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “Their academic careers, community commitments, and records of achievement are inspiring to us all, and I have no doubt that they will both thrive during their time at Oxford.”

During his time at Queen’s Hynes has served as co-director for the Medical Variety Night charity show as well as steering committee member on the Canadian Queer Medical Students Association. His current research interests are focused on 2SLGBTQ+ populations and dermatology.

Hynes completed his BSc at the University of New Brunswick where he performed research in molecular microbiology and co-founded the UNB Lifesaving Sport Team.

Following Oxford, he intends to complete his MD and pursue a career as an advocacy-oriented physician.

“I am thrilled to continue my education at the University of Oxford made possible by the Rhodes Scholarship,” Hynes says. “I would like to thank my family, friends, Queen’s Medicine community, and the many incredible mentors from both UNB and Queen’s who have supported me on this journey. I am excited to expand my global perspective and meet fellow advocacy-oriented leaders while completing my MSc in Epidemiology and Master of Public Policy. This opportunity will better enable me to effectively implement social policy changes to further support marginalized communities.”

Marsh recently received a Master of Science degree in chemistry from Queen’s after completing his undergraduate studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Outside of academia he is an active volunteer working largely as a mental health advocate, where he helped pioneer a peer support program at Memorial. He is an Alexander Graham Bell National Scholar and has won numerous awards throughout his academic career.

At Oxford, Marsh will pursue a DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry where he will focus on the development of novel therapies as potential treatments for children with rare brain cancers.

“I am very grateful to have been selected for the Rhodes Scholarship and I am excited for my next chapter at Oxford,” Marsh says "It is a tremendous opportunity and I look forward to continue growing as a chemist and be a part of a group of inspiring individuals from all around the world. I am so thankful to everyone that has supported me throughout my journey – my parents, family, friends, and the fantastic mentors I have had at Queen's, Memorial and abroad. I am excited to begin my DPhil in Chemistry at Oxford in Autumn of 2021, where I will develop novel therapeutics for rare brain cancers.”

Funded by the Rhodes Trusts, 11 Rhodes Scholars are selected each year from across Canada. These outstanding students demonstrate a strong propensity to emerge as “leaders for the world’s future.”

The scholarships to Oxford University are for postgraduate studies or a second bachelor’s degree and cover tuition and fees and provides a stipend to help cover living expenses for two to three years of study while at Oxford.

Learn more about Rhodes Scholarships.


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